Today I don't smoke

Friend Don complains regularly about the insensitivity of smokers in both America and Japan, but says that while, in America, smokers are being forced into ever smaller public areas as non-smokers demand their right to breathe smoke-free air, in Japan, the non-smoker has no rights. As a translator who likes to work in coffee shops, he often has to move from table to table to avoid cigarette smoke.

Recently, however, he has noticed that more and more coffee shops here in Kobe have no-smoking areas. A few are even totally smoke-free. It is still the beginning of a trend, but it is a significant departure from past practices.

Perhaps the earthquake last year had something to do with the new attitude. The government made up for its inaction immediately after the quake by rushing headlong into a program of cleaning up the mess by burning it. The resulting plumes of smoke lay over the city for months. Endless traffic jams added high levels of carbon monoxide and particulate matter, and the media was full of stories about the extremely high levels of airborne asbestos-a highly dangerous carcinogen. Air quality was an issue visible to everyone, and suddenly, everyone was talking about it-and covering their faces with masks.

With this new sensitivity to the quality of their air, it is possible that the non-smoking portion of the population is beginning to insist on smoke-free areas in their coffee shops and restaurants.

Granted, many coffee shops have had non-smoking areas for years. But few are actually effective. Many are token non-smoking areas consisting of a few tables in a corner, hemmed in by smoking tables. Non-smokers must still deal with smoke wafting into their areas because of proximity, air conditioning air flows, etc.

Here is Don's very incomplete list of coffee shops in Kobe and Osaka that have effective (i.e., smoke-free) no-smoking areas. If you know of any others, please let me know. I'll include them in a future update of smoke-free coffee shops.

Coffee shops in Kobe with non-smoking areas

Gloria Jeans
The San Francisco chain, located on the 2nd floor of Sun Plaza. they deserve to be first on the list because, not only do they serve great coffee, Gloria Jeans is totally non-smoking. Tel: 078-321-4370.

South of JR Sannomiya (just across Rt. 42) between the pachinko parlors is a stairway leading up to Pronto. They serve sandwiches, pastries and other coffee accompaniments, and their no-smoking section is 1/2 of a very large shop.

Polo Dog
One street south of Center Gai, the (formerly covered) shopping street in Sannomiya, Polo Dog is actually a bar at night, but during the day, is a coffee shop with an unusually large non-smoking area.

Mister Donut
Be very careful here. There are several Mister Donut shops in Sannomiya, but only one is completely non-smoking. The others are full-smoking.

The non-smoking Mister Donut shop is south of Center Gai in a two-story temporary building (which is probably why it is non-smoking). Their donuts are pretty good, too.

Coffee shops in Osaka with non-smoking areas